• all trans retinoic acid;
  • beta defensin;
  • JS7 cells;
  • surfactant protein;
  • type II pneumocytes;
  • vascular endothelial growth factor


Beta-defensins and surfactant proteins are components of the pulmonary innate immune system. Their gene expression is regulated by development, hormones, growth and immunoregulatory factors. It was our hypothesis that growth and differentiation factors such as all-trans retinoic acid (RA) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) may affect expression of selected innate immune genes by respiratory epithelial cells. Ovine JS7 cells (alveolar type II pneumocytes) were incubated in serum-free Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium (DMEM) complete media that contained: no treatment (negative control), RA (500 nM), or VEGF (100 ng/ml) for 6, 12 or 24 h incubation. Total RNA was isolated, cDNA synthesized, and relative mRNA levels of surfactant protein A (SP-A) and SP-D, and sheep beta-defensin-1 (SBD-1) were determined by real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Cells had significantly increased expression of SP-D mRNA at 6 h and 24 h, decreased expression of SP-A mRNA at 12 h, and unchanged levels of SBD-1 mRNA after the treatment with RA compared with their respective negative controls. VEGF did not alter the expression of the three innate immune genes. These findings suggest that SP-A and SP-D have different transcription regulation pathways, and that expression of SBD-1 is not inducible by RA similar to its human homolog HBD-1. The lack of changes induced by VEGF treatment suggests that VEGF does not have a direct effect on epithelial cells, but may affect gene expression indirectly.